I don’t have a twitter, but I did want to suggest a book for future African Literature courses. I think Ghana Must Go would be an interesting read and fits with the identity piece of the course.
For my book review I chose the novel A Long Way Gone by author Ishmael Baer. The novel tells the story of Ishmael Baer’s childhood as a child soldier in Sierra Leone. You can read my review of the novel by clicking on this link:
I wanted to post this video because I think it sums up what we have learned from taking a course on African literature and the class discussion on short stories. The video encompasses the perception of what African literature is and the struggle African writers face in telling the stories they want to tell.
I watched the film The Square about the Egyptian revolution that started in 2011. The film was great because it gave an inside look into the revolution. I was surprised, but happy to see Khalid Abdalla because I love the film The Kite Runner. The film starts with the beginning of the revolution in early 2011 to the summer of 2013. Khalid Abdalla and Ahmed Hassan were the two main active players depicted in the revolution. Madgy Ashour was a Muslim Brotherhood member and was staunch in the beliefs of the organization. Abdalla is posed as the leader of the revolution that pushed for the use of social media to document the revolution. I found that to be interesting because Abdalla is an actor and I expected the social media was instrumented as a group effort. I became really invested in the film through watching Ahmed because he was mainly the person talking in the film and was so passionate about the revolution. His passion for the cause was infectious and made you feel as if you were apart of the revolution too. My heart almost dropped when I saw Ahmed injured, but I was glad to see he was okay. The scenes of the painting of the mural on the revolution was powerful because the mental strain on the revolutionaries through the government changes was captured in art. Personally, I disliked the scenes with government tanks rolling over the people during a protest. The scene was raw and showed the ruthlessness of the military’s pursuit of the revolutionaries. I do wish the film focused more on Madgy and the Muslim Brotherhood protest at the end of the film to show the other half of the revolution. Madgy was an interesting figure because he shifted between support for the revolution and the Muslim Brotherhood. His loyalties in the end were to the Muslim Brotherhood, but he respected the revolutionaries. The Square is a great film to watch because you see how the revolution in Egypt starts and how it reacts throughout the three different government switches.
From All Our Names to some of the short stories in The Thing Around Your Neck, our class discussions have not only revolved around experiences in the African continent but also experiences in the diaspora. Afrikan Boy is a perfect example of the interesting culture of Africans overseas. With his good humor, the U.K.-born Nigerian rapper does not shy away from his roots and mixes them with the grime scene he grew up with in England, lending to the genre of “Afro-grime.” Afrikan Boy is able to present themes ranging from battling immigration officers to just being plain Y.A.M. (Young, Ambitious, and Motivated) in a surprisingly catchy way, and if anyone’s looking for some new music, I’d suggest checking him out.
If the importance of yams in Nigeria wasn’t stressed enough in Things Fall Apart…
And here, he samples the legendary Fela Kuti in “Hit Em Up.”
He just released an album as well. It’s on Spotify! (Favorite tracks: Take You There, Border Business, Mr Kunta Kinte, M.I.A)
This thought article is written by an African writer who cannot get published and is extremely frustrated. He blames the white capitalism for this and says that publishers only want stories that align with the European view on the world. His articles itself was not what intrigued me but rather the conversation is struck in the comments below the article. I summarized some of the comments below which show the variety of opinions on publishing African writing.
“don’t expect people to pay for your illogical ramblings, generalisations and your fixation on race.”
Publishing is about choosing which books will sell to the reading market. If there was an interest in African writing and people would buy it, it would be published.
This resistance to African creativity and telling a different story is not just in publishing. She experiences as a African grad student in the US everyday.
There are many informal ways of publishing if you are good enough.
Achebe wrote his own story. If you are good enough you get published.
There seems to be a lot of comments talking about if the writer is good enough at writing. Some are direct insults to the author of the article while others imply that people are just not interested in African literature. Some Africans share the same frustrations as the author while others think that his way of addressing the issue is not the right way to go about it. These opinions are not scholarly ones but rather show what members of the general public think which mostly consists of not a lot of sympathy for the author of this piece.
Here is a recent project from Focus Features production company called Africa First. Each year Africa First picks 5 of the most talented filmmakers in Africa to come to the United States and make a pretty well budgeted short film. The project is meant to start a longterm relationship with these filmmakers so that later on they can move over into feature length films.
We have talked about the governments in Africa in class, and I found something related to this topic. “Austria-based art historian and photographer Alfred Weidinger has traveled across Africa in search of royalty.” I think this is a cool project because we seldom know the kings in Africa. At the end of the news, Weidinger claims that “the biggest threat to Africa’s last remaining monarchs isn’t local government, but modernity.” This actually does make sense because cell phones or the internet allow people to get information more easily and quickly.
I read The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengestu. This novel takes place in DC in the 1970s where an Ethiopian immigrant who owns a grocery store in the city. The story centralizes around his relationships with other characters in his neighborhood, both Africans and non-Africans, and how they affect the culture shock that he feels living in the United States and how it feels to be displaced. Belowis the link to my review on amazon.
Osuofia in London is a gaudy comedy about a Nigerian man who leaves his rural village to collect the fortune left to him by his deceased brother in London. It’s an older film out of Nollywood, so the production quality is really low but for me it only added to the hilarity. It was recommended to me by my Nigerian friend who said that it’s a perfect example of a cheesy Nollywood film.
Most of the jokes are based off of the hilarity that ensues when Osuofia, who has never left his village, interacts with the Londoners. Osuofia is an incredibly selfish, stubborn, and argumentative individual who gets into all sorts of trouble. For instance, he found himself in a park and, seeing the gathering of pigeons there, started to hunt them, which eventually led to his arrest, where he was questioned while refusing to let go of the bird he had caught.
Because this movie was made for Nigerian audiences, it was not the polished, cleanly edited version of Africa we tend to get. Shot in mostly pidgin and a bit in Igbo, it was a very raw sample of Nigerian culture and language that was very interesting but at times hard to understand.
Although this movie was very funny and a great source of Nigerian culture, I really wish they had given Osuofia at least one positive atribute, because he was such a bad person it was really hard to root for him as a protagonist.
Furthermore, because Nollywood movies try to make as much money as possible by making as many cheap movies as possible, the plots tend to be slow-moving and circuitous. It wasn’t until the very end that the conflict of the movie was presented and the action really started to happen, and the movie ended right at the climax. This was to convince people to come to see the next movie to get the end of the story, but it made me really frustrated. Maybe I should reserve my judgement until I see “Osuofia in London 2.”